Several countries and organizations are racing towards the Moon, but this time, the plan is to leave more than mere footprints. A British company called Metalysis has won a European Space Agency (ESA) contract to refine its existing technology that turns lunar regolith (loose, unconsolidated surface rocks) into oxygen while simultaneously producing aluminum, iron, and other metal alloys for the moonfarers to work with.

Should the process prove a viable one with the improvements, we will probably see extraction plants being built on the moon to produce materials right there. Ian Mellor, the managing director of the company says, “If you want to go further out into space, it’s a gas station on the moon essentially, to get into deeper space.”

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